The Leo Maddox Foundation

Leo Maddox Foundation Main Image

“Philanthropy is the bridge that enables us to preserve our son Leo’s legacy”:
New scholarship will honor Leo Maddox’s life and love for the ocean


Leo and his mother, Sylvia, in front of the
UW School of Oceanography

Growing up, Leo Maddox Schneider of Seattle loved the ocean and felt at home whenever he was exploring the natural world. But Leo’s love for the sea went well beyond the joy he received from swimming with dolphins or sharing his mother’s appreciation for boat-building craftsmanship. Sylvia Bolton, Leo’s mother, experienced her son’s passion for the ocean transform into a vision; one in which he began actively championing our shared responsibility to protect the health of our ocean and the future of our planet. Even at his young age, Leo learned about recycling and yearned to free our oceans from plastic pollution.

“When Leo had a goal, he pursued it with his full heart and mind until he achieved it,” recalls Bolton. “Throughout his young life, Leo and I had negotiable and non-negotiable agreements. Vegetables at dinner were non-negotiable. But when Leo became passionate about recycling and ocean pollution, he debated and addressed my concern over his safety collecting garbage into a non-negotiable cause he championed because he wanted to make a difference for the future of our planet.” 

For as much love as Leo had for the ocean, he was equally passionate about computer coding and dreamed of studying it in college one day. He might have pursued a degree in both fields from the University of Washington if not for injuries he sustained in a tragic automobile accident. Four and a half months later, on January 12, 2019, Leo passed away from complications of those injuries. Nearly two years after the tragic loss, and through a foundation she established in her son’s memory, Bolton is helping students fulfill their dreams of becoming oceanographers through the Leo Maddox Foundation Scholarship in Oceanography.

Leo loved dolphins and had a passion
for protecting their habitat

“Leo was our sunshine. He radiated happiness, immense curiosity about the world around him, and friendliness towards others. Like the sun, as the only child and grandchild in our family; our world revolved around him,” recalled Bolton. “We do not want the tragedy of Leo’s passing to define him.”

Last year, Bolton established the Leo Maddox Foundation to honor her son’s memory. From empowering local students in the Rainier Scholars program to accelerating ocean pollution research at The Pew Charitable Trusts, Bolton is making meaningful investments in honor of Leo’s passions and ambitions. The new Leo Maddox Foundation Scholarship in Oceanography will provide financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students engaged in climate-related education and research in the UW’s School of Oceanography.

“Our thoughts are with Leo’s family and his loved ones, and we are heartbroken that he will never get the chance to be a part of the School of Oceanography community. We are truly grateful for the Foundation’s commitment to our students by establishing this scholarship in Leo’s memory,” said professor Rick Keil, director of the School of Oceanography. “This scholarship will touch the lives of many students and help fulfill their dreams of becoming world-class oceanographers.”

To honor her son’s love for both the ocean and computer coding, Bolton also established the Leo Maddox Foundation Scholarship in Computer Science & Engineering in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at UW. With global prominence in both disciplines, Bolton and the Foundation are entrusting the UW with honoring Leo’s memory through each scholarship.

Leo Maddox Schneider:
July 7, 2005 – January 12, 2019

Vivian Ho, creator of the Leo Maddox Foundation, shared that “as important as it is for the Leo Maddox Foundation to support young adults, it is equally important that we do so with the leaders in both fields. In conducting our due diligence, it was clear that the University of Washington had a lot to offer in both areas of study and in shaping support for student scholarships. They created the perfect vehicles for our founder, Sylvia Bolton, to make the impactful difference she was seeking for Leo’s legacy.”  

Learn more about the Leo Maddox Foundation Scholarships here and Leo’s life and legacy here.

Photographs provided by Sylvia Bolton

Story collaborators: Sylvia Bolton, Vivian Ho, Kristin Osborne, James Anderson


News & Events